Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

be my horse. The voluptuous men (whom we are fallen upon) may be divided, I think, into the lustful and luxurious, who arc both servants of the belly; the other, whom we spoke of before, the ambitious and the covetous, were mma Sij{fc», evil wild beasts; these are yitfifti aqyct), slow bellies, as our translation renders it, but the word uQyai (which is a fantastical word, with two directly opposite significations) will bear as well the translation of quick or diligent bellies; and both interpretations may be applied to these men. Metrodorus said, " that he had learnt cfrrfiZf y«rj' X'H^f^'t t0 g've his belly just thanks for all his pleasures." This, by the calumniators of Epicurus's philosophy, was objected as one of the most scandalous of all their sayings; which, according to my charitable understanding, may admit a very virtuous sense, which is, that he thanked his own belly for that moderation, in the customary appetites of it, which can only give a man liberty and happiness in this world. Let this suffice at present to be spoken of those great triumviri of the world; the covetous man, who is a mean villain, like Lcpidus; the ambitious, who is a brave one, like Octavius; and the voluptuous, who is a loose and debauched^ one, like Mark Antony:

Quisnam igitur liber? Sapiens sibique impcriosus *;

• Hot. 2 Sat. vii. 83,

Not Oenomaus *, who commits himself wholly to a charioteer, that may break his neck; but the man

Who governs his own course with steady hand;
Who does himself with sovereign power command;
Whom neither death nor poverty does fright;
Who stands not awkwardly in his own light
Against the truth; who can, when pleasures knock
Loud at his door, keep firm the bolt and lock;
Who can, though honour at his gate should stay
In all her masking clothes, send her away,
And cry, Be gone, I have no mind to play.

[ocr errors]

This, I confess, is a freeman: but it may be said, that many persons are so shackled by their fortune, that they are hindered from enjoyment of that manumission which they have obtained from virtue. I do both understand, and in part feel, the weight of this objection: all I can answer to it is, that we must get as much liberty as we can, we must use our utmost endeavours, and, when all that is done, be contented with the length of that line which is allowed us. If you ask me, in what condition of life I think the most allowed; I should pitch upon that sort of people, whom king James was wont to call the happiest of our nation, the men placed in the country by their fortune above

* Virg. Georg. iii. 7.

an high constable, and yet beneath the trouble of a justice of peace ; in a moderate plenty, without any just argument for the desire of increasing it by the care of many relations; and with so much knowledge and love of piety and philosophy (that is, of the sfudy of God's laws, and of his creatures) as may afford him matter enough never to be idle, though without business; and never to be melancholy, though without sjo or vanity.

I shall conclude 'this tedious discourse with a prayer of mine in a copy of Latin verses, of which 1 remember no other part; and (pourfaire bonne bouche), with some other verses upon the sarne subject:

"Magne Deus, quod ad has vitae brevis attinet horas, "Da mini, da panem libertatemque, nee ultra "Sollicitas effundo preces: si quid datur ultra, "Accipiam gratus; si non, contentus abibo."

For the few hours of life allotted me,

Give me, (great God !) but bread and liberty,

I 'll beg no more: if more thou 'rt pleas'd to give,

I 'll thankfully that overplus receive:

If beypnd this no more be freely sent,

I'll thank for this, and go away content.

MARTIAL. LIB. I. EP. LVI.

"Fola lui brniter," $c.

WELL then, Sir, you shall know how fur extend The prayers and hopes of your poetick friend. He does not palaces nor manors crave, Would Be no lord, but less a lord would Have; The ground he holds, if he his own can call, He quarrels not with Heaven because 't is small: Let gay and toilsome greatness others please He loves of homely littleness the ease. Can any man in gilded rooms attend, And his dear hours in humble visits spend, When in the fresh and beauteous fields he may With various healthful pleasures fill the day? If there be man (ye gods !) I ought to hate, Dependance and attendance be his fate; Still let him busy be, and in a crowd, And very much a slave, and very proud: Thus he perhaps powerful and rich may grow; No matter, O ye gods! that I '11 allow: But let him peace and freedom never see; Let him not love this life, who loves not me [

PARTIAL. LIB. II. EP. LIII,

"Visjeriliber?" SfC.

WOULD you be free f 'Tis your chief wish, you say; >' ..'

Come on; I ']l shew thee, friend, the certain way:
If to no feasts abroad thou lov'st to go,
While bounteous God does bread at home bestow j
If thou the goodness of thy clothes dost prize
By thine own use, and not by others' eyes;
If (only safe from weathers) thou canst dwell
In a small house, but a convenient shell;
If thou, without a sigh, or golden wish,
Canst look upon thy beechen bowl and dish ;—
If in thy mind such power and greatness be,
The Persian king's a slave compai.'d with thee.

MARTIAL. LIB. II. EP. LXVIII.

"Quod te nomine," tyc.

THAT I do you with humble bows no more. And danger of my naked head, adore; That I, who " Lord and master," cry'd ercwhile. Salute you, in a new and different style, By your own name, a scandal to you now j Think not that I forget myself or you:

« PoprzedniaDalej »